Kendall Jenner came under fire this week after Vogue released a picture of her with an afro. The picture, which was for Vogue’s November issue, featured the 22-year-old model in a prairie dress with a curly black afro on her head. It didn’t take long for fans to accuse Vogue and Jenner of cultural appropriation, with the magazine apologizing and explaining that the look was supposed to be a modern take on the Edwardian Era’s teased-out Gibson Girl hair.
Jenner has yet to speak on the controversy. But in an interview with Entertainment Tonight, the Keeping Up with the Kardashians star’s best friend, Justine Skye, said she tried to warn the model months ago about the backlash. “She did that shoot so long ago and she, like, showed me the photo,” Skye said. “I was like, ‘People are going to come at you.’ I told her people were going to come at her.”
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Though Skye understands that Vogue and other editorial outlets often “experiment wth a lot of things,” she also gets how the picture can be seen as cultural appropriation. However, she did defend her friend in noting that many white women also have curly hair and that if Jenner’s curls were as tight as black women’s usually, she would’ve called her out more.
“But I do understand, like, in this point in time, it’s very sensitive,” she said.”You’ve gotta be a little careful and just expect that people are going to [spin headlines to create larger issues].” If it was like [my own hair], then I’d be like, ‘Girl, what are you doing?'”
While Skye understands how people can be lost in the moment and not understand the effect of their actions, she does believe that models have the responsibility to use their voice when they think a vision is wrong. “I think that you should speak up. Sometimes it hard,” she said. “Being in this industry, sometimes when you’re in the moment, you don’t even think about it. You’re not thinking about if it will offend. There are those people that do think immediately, then there’s those people that are thinking we’re all human. We’re not, like, perfect all the time.”
Skye added, “I know that I’ve said things that people were not fond of. It’s just, like, you grow and you learn and you make mistakes. It’s just we’re making mistakes in the public eye. We have to be a lot more careful about the things that we do.”